Relatively Speaking: Online genealogy courses available through NGS

Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.

By Martha Jones

Recently, I was honored to be elected secretary of the National Genealogical Society (NGS). This position allows me to meet and work alongside top-rated and nationally recognized genealogists in many cities across the U.S., as we lead NGS through the coming two years. As secretary, I look forward to attending NGS board meetings in Salt Lake City in February, the NGS national conference in Charleston, S.C., in May and the fall board meeting in Springfield, Ill., in September.

If you are not familiar with NGS, it was created in 1903 in Washington, D.C., and is the most highly respected national genealogical society in our country. Its mission is to serve genealogical communities by providing education and training, fostering increased quality and standards, and promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records. It is a nonprofit organization and is the premier national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian.

The NGS yearly conference moves from east to west, north to south in its effort to accommodate genealogists and family historians across the nation. In addition, NGS publishes a scholarly journal used as a model for researchers and writers. New to the offerings are online educational courses and videos for continued learning opportunities.

NGS online courses can be completed in the comfort of your home and are self-checked by you or sent to a grader and returned with a score and comments for suggested study or resources to improve the work submitted. A few years ago, I completed the American Genealogy: Home Study Course and mailed my responses to the NGS office for grading and comments. I consider this the most beneficial course I have completed in my genealogical studies, including a course on Southern Genealogical Research from a major university. I highly recommend the American Genealogy: NGS Home Study Course to all beginning, intermediate and even advanced genealogists. The online address is At the top of the website, you will see a link to Educational Courses.

The American Genealogy: Home Study Course curriculum includes the following items:

Instruction about a variety of genealogical resources

Strategies for conducting family history research on the Internet and in libraries, courthouses and archives

Analyzing documents to get the most out of sources

Principles of evidence analysis;

Explanations of source citation, including examples

Tips for writing narratives

Assignments with examples of how they should be completed

Self-correcting exams; or graded by an NGS tutor

Bibliographies and reference lists

Online mail list for advice and research help

A certificate is awarded to each person who successfully completes the graded version of the NGS American Genealogy: Home Study Course.

NGS individual membership is $60 per year and includes the NGS Quarterly, NGS Newsletter, article archive, free access to all online courses, Research Notes, Message Board and access to more than 600 Family Bibles and Family Histories. For more information, contact Member Services at

Happy Researching.

E-mail genealogy queries to VCGS members will research queries requiring extensive study.



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